Felleter calls Steers’ allegations ‘lies’ | PostIndependent.com

Felleter calls Steers’ allegations ‘lies’

Assistant District Attorney Vince Felleter Friday called a former prosecutor’s accusations against the DA’s office “outright lies.”Felleter denied former prosecutor Katherine Steers’ allegations that he and DA Colleen Truden made plea bargain decisions on cases based on what defense attorneys have said publicly about the DA’s office, rather than on the cases themselves.”I’ll stand by every single case we’ve handled,” Felleter said.Greg Greer, chief public defender with the Public Defender’s Office in Glenwood Springs, said he hasn’t seen any variation in treatment of cases based on the defense attorneys who are handling them.”I have not observed that at all, from this office’s standpoint, from my cases or anyone in this office’s cases,” he said.Some defense attorneys contacted Friday declined to comment. Attorney Ted Hess said some of his peers fear speaking up against Truden, who’s the subject of a recall effort.”They don’t want to rock the boat because if the incumbents stay in there would be retribution,” he said.Hess faces a disorderly conduct charge after a verbal encounter with a deputy DA. He has pleaded not guilty and accused the DA’s office of bullying him by filing the charge. Tony Hershey, who also raised concerns about Truden’s office after resigning earlier this year, said Truden and Felleter had the attitude “that some lawyers are friends of the office and some are not.”As an example, “the public defenders can do no wrong because they’re not saying anything bad about Colleen and Vince in the press,” Hershey said.Greer said he is required in his job to stay politically neutral, and he tries to keep a good relationship with whoever the DA is. But he believes it’s been harder to get good deals for his clients now. “Any time there’s political pressure on the DA’s office, the criminal defendants suffer because they are treated more harshly because of being under a microscope,” he said.Said Felleter, “There’s nothing wrong with prosecutors being tough. That’s fair.”In fact, Truden ran for office on a campaign of being tough on crime. This week she released statistics she says demonstrate that she is keeping that pledge. The numbers show a rise in felony convictions and filings since she took office this year.Said Greer, “I guess every DA campaigns on getting tough on crime and it becomes a race of who’s the toughest. After more than 20 years (as a public defender) I just wonder if there’s a limit on who out-toughs the next person.”While Hershey has concerns about how the DA’s office may view different defense attorneys, he said he hasn’t decided whether he will file an ethics complaint about it. But he added, “I didn’t see anything that I felt as a professional attorney that I had to file a grievance on.”Attorneys who believe another attorney has engaged in an ethical violation are obligated to report it to the Colorado Supreme Court. Steers said she hopes defense attorneys file complaints, but also realizes it can cripple their practices if they get on the bad side of the DA’s office and can’t negotiate on behalf of their clients.Felleter said Steers’ allegations are lacking in specifics and the media is taking her at her word. He said he’s been an attorney for 19 years. “I’ve never had this type of accusation against me,” he said.”What you’re doing is smearing good, hard-working public servants because you don’t agree with their politics,” he said of the media. “… I wish you guys would print the real facts instead of this garbage that supports your political philosophy.”Steers also has said prosecutors are unable to do their jobs because Truden and Felleter are obsessed with the current political climate and media coverage about the DA’s office. But Felleter said that doesn’t square with the increase in convictions and felony filings under Truden.”What those figures show is that we haven’t spent an inordinate amount of time worrying about this,” he said.As for Steers’ concern that the DA office might be avoiding trials out of financial concerns, Felleter noted that the office has been criticized for being over budget, and now is being criticized for being careful with its finances.”It seems like … we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” he said.Felleter suggested that friends influenced Steers’ decision to quit and criticize the DA’s office. Steers has said Felleter and Truden held her friendship with Hershey against her.”He and Colleen, they are judging me based on alleged associations with people. My decision was my own,” she said.”

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